Bryan Cohen Mar. 28, 2013, 5:53pm

SAINT PAUL, Minn. (Legal Newsline) - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson says she soon will hold a public hearing to receive comments regarding the potential takeover of Fairview Health Services by South Dakota-based Sanford Health.

The April 7 hearing may be the first of several public hearings on the takeover of Fairview, which is a century-old Minnesota charitable institution that includes the University of Minnesota Medical Center. Fairview has a long history as a charitable institution in Minnesota and Swanson's office regulates charitable institutions.

"Fairview is an integral part of our health care system and exists because of 100 years of goodwill, generosity and financial support of the people of Minnesota," Swanson said. "There should be significant public dialogue about any potential transfer of control of this century-old Minnesota charitable institution to Sanford Health of South Dakota."

The University of Minnesota Medical Center and its clinics joined Fairview as part of a 1997 affiliation agreement between the two organizations. The center's medical school trains approximately 70 percent of Minnesota doctors and is involved in a medical alley whose medical device and healthcare companies employ tens of thousands of Minnesotans. The affiliation agreement runs through 2026 and may be renewed for another 60 years.

"There was over one year of public debate before Fairview - a local charitable institution governed by Minnesota residents with ties to the university - took control of the University of Minnesota Medical Center in 1997," Swanson said. "There should be robust public discussion and input now too."

Swanson's office is conducting public hearings as part of its role as a regulator of charitable institutions to give the public a chance to be involved in the dialogue between Fairview and Sanford.

"I am troubled by the notion that a small group of people at Fairview and Sanford would conduct private discussions without the benefit of the public's input regarding a matter of such sweeping consequences for Minnesota when it comes to control of the University health system, the quality of health care for our patients, and our state's economy and international prestige," Swanson said.

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